Oklahoma City officials discuss hiring struggle, sign-on bonuses


Update: The Oklahoma City Police Department has made changes to its COVID-19 vaccine policy.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The City of Oklahoma City has two dozen jobs to fill and they hope some extra cash will be the perfect motivator to make it happen.

It’s left many wondering, though, why these jobs have been so hard to fill and how the bonuses the city is offering will be funded?

“Just like other municipalities around the metro, just like private corporations, we are struggling to hire people,” said Zach Nash, Communication & Marketing Manager with the City of Oklahoma City.

Nash says OKC is tied with Salt Lake City as one of the top 25 cities with a low unemployment rate, even though hiring has been a challenge.

“We need to be competitive with not only other government agencies but also the private sector,” Nash said. 

That’s why they’re offering sign-on bonuses ranging from $2,500 to $5,500 for 24 jobs.

“These bonuses are paid for through a variety of funding sources,” said Nash. “Most importantly, since some of these positions have been sitting open for so long, they’re cost savings that we could have been paying these employees.”

The positions range from animal welfare representatives, to 911 dispatchers to police and firefighters – all jobs Nash says have been hard to fill.

“There’s no real reason,” he said. “It really comes down to that tight labor market.”

In comments online, some have raised concerns that it could be due to a vaccine mandate but Nash says that’s not the reality.

“With new recruits in police and fire, we do require a COVID-19 vaccination but for all the other job classifications that are out there for various city departments, a vaccine requirement isn’t in place right now,” said Nash.

After KFOR’s story aired, officials with the Oklahoma City Police Department say they have dropped their COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all new hires and recruits.

MSgt. Gary Knight says neither a vaccine nor a negative test are required to become a police recruit.

The city is hoping thousands of extra dollars will help attract new workers.

“It’s helping your neighbors, helping friends and we hope that if we can get people in the door, we can show them what a great place Oklahoma City is to work,” Nash said.

If you’d like to learn more information or to apply, visit OKC.gov/careers.

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